Flash Art review by Roy Exley
Pump House Gallery
Surrounded by ethereal dream-like images, the viewer moves through the spaces of this gallery as though room's in Maurer's mind. Using light and glass, Helen Maurer has enveloped these vertically stacked rooms with a phantasmagoria of vivid images evocative of Victorian magic lantern shows. Using the reflective and diffusive qualities of glass in tandem with overhead projectors and spotlights in innovative ways, Maurer has created a series of landscapes and seascapes that ring of nostalgic childhood memories. By constructing miniature glass tableaux in coloured glass that don't make much sense visually until backlit or projected onto the wall using overhead projectors, she creates magical fantasy worlds. By using reflection, foreshortening and anamorphic distortion, the complexities of Maurer's intricate installations are not resolved until the light hits the walls, when all is transmuted, through a mesmerizing alchemy of light, into a series of plausible scenes.
Unlike the metaphysical, psycho-perceptual explorations in James Turrell's light works, Maurer's works are imaginative, whimsical and child-like, fairytale books rather than the physics lab, like strange sets rather than optical illusions. The difference in scale between the 40cm tableaux and the wall - engulfing images that they create, via the overhead projectors, transforms not only the pictorial qualities of these works, but also the surfaces, textures and colours of the glass; all these metamorphoses are adroitly compensated for in the production of these works. Maurer handles glass and light with equal facility. Light projections seem to ricochet around the gallery, but nothing is arbitrary here; intersecting and diverging beams and planes of light all contribute to the panoramic senses that envelop the viewer. Everything is precisely calculated, intricately conceived, in this frozen choreography of fragile images. 'Slow art' at its best, Paul Virilio would love this.
Flash Art, 2007